Kyle Busch sets NASCAR record in Bristol
Kyle Busch etched his name into the NASCAR record books on Saturday night with an historic three-race sweep, becoming the first driver ever to win in all three of the sport’s top series in a single weekend, capping off the trifecta with a dominating victory in the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Following up his worst-to-first victory in the Camping World Truck Series 200-lap event on Wednesday night, Busch went two-for-two on Friday with a win in the Nationwide Series race to move one step closer to a shot at history, and finally cashed in on Saturday night.
Busch took the lead from David Reutimann with 72 laps to and was never challenged through the remaining laps to score his 19th career victory and his third of the 2010 season.
“I love Bristol and I love winning. And to do it for the first time ever in NASCAR, to sweep the weekend, man, that’s pretty awesome,” said Busch in Victory Lane. “I’ve been trying to do this since I got to NASCAR, since I got my NASCAR career. Fortunately, tonight I was able to get it done, be the first one to do it. I’m the first in a lot of things.
“It's pretty cool because when you come so close and then don't get it, it's pretty frustrating. I mean, last year we won the truck race and were leading the Nationwide race and we got crashed out, and then we ended up winning the Cup race. So this is probably a year delayed.”
Reutimann held off Jaime McMurray for second, with Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne making up the rest of the top five.
Although Kyle Busch’s name is already in the NASCAR record books – several times over - the three-series sweep is an accolade he’s been chasing for six years.
Busch more than proved that no one would stand in his way with his win during Friday night’s Nationwide race, where he admittedly “dumped” Brad Keselowski with 32 laps to and went on to the checkered flag.
Keselowski - currently on probation for the rest of the year after on-track run-ins with Carl Edwards – mocked Busch during the pre-race driver introductions, but maintained his cool during the race, passing up several chances for retaliation as Busch lapped him.
While Busch was the car to beat in the second half of the race, polesitter Jimmie Johnson was the class of the field early on, leading 127 of the first 129 laps. Johnson and Busch then swapped the lead no less than six time over the next 28 laps before Busch regained the top spot on lap 256 with a bold three-wide pass on Johnson and Reutimann.
Shortly after a restart on lap 200, Johnson was hit from behind by Juan Pablo Montoya, sending Johnson’s Chevrolet hard into the outside wall and to the garage, where he spent nearly 85 laps repairing the damage and ended up finishing 35th.
Reutimann briefly led the field as the race came down to 100 laps to go and soon found himself trading paint with Busch in a side-by-side battle before Busch finally re-took the lead on lap 429.
Despite a bout with food poisoning earlier in the weekend, Reutimann managed to hold his ground against Busch but in the end couldn’t hold him off.
“It's just me trying to stay ahead of him and getting back to the gas a little early. We got together, but we were just racing. It's no big deal,” said Reutimann. “If you race Kyle (Busch), you know you're going to get run into at some point. That's just kind of the way it is. So it's no big deal, we're just racing.
“When he got by me, I just got loose, I made a mistake, and we were -- he was getting faster and we were getting tighter, so I think we were just prolonging the inevitable. I just made a mistake, got a little loose up off the corner, got to the gas too quick, got too aggressive and he was there to pounce on it, and the rest is history.”
With three races left before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins, Bristol was seen as a tipping point for those trying to race their way into the 12th and final spot in the Chase.
Hanging onto the 12th spot by just 35 points over Mark Martin coming into Saturday night’s race, Bowyer fought back from an early pit road speeding penalty to finish fourth while Martin limped home in 23rd position and dropped to 14th while McMurray jumped to the 13th spot, 100 points behind Bowyer.
“I want to make the Chase, but there's nothing you can do,” said McMurray. “We drove as hard as we could tonight and finished third, and I don't think we really gained any points. But two races left, a lot can happen, so we'll just have to wait and see. It certainly is a better position to be in right now for us because there only is one person we have to pass. When you have three or four in between you, you have to hope all of them have something bad happen to all them.”
And something bad happening is exactly what several drivers near the front of the Chase field experienced Saturday night.
Besides Johnson, Tony Stewart got caught up in an early incident and lost several laps in the pits, finishing 27th. Denny Hamlin also had trouble, coming home 34th after spending 27 laps in the garage.
Both drivers dropped two positions in the points standings behind points leader Kevin Harvick, who battled an ill-handling race car to a 14th-place finish. He now leads Jeff Gordon by 279 points, followed by Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Hamlin.
* Denotes Rookie
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